A couple of weekends ago I attended a very inspiring event organized by the Chrissy Field Center to recognize Bay Area residents who have worked to improve their local environment. Among the Community Heroes honored this year was Barbara Wenger, a longtime neighborhood activist who founded the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group and headed up the effort to clean up Koshland Park right down the street from our garden.
In the 1990s, Koshland Park was a magnet for drug dealing and prostitution in the Lower Haight. Barbara volunteered to lead a committee to reclaim the park for the community. She organized a "Take Back Your Park Day" and the response from the neighborhood was tremendous. Hundreds of neighbors turned out and spent the day removing trash and other debris from the park and began working to restore it as a safe place for kids to play.
Today, Koshland Park has a new playground, beautiful landscaping, and a vibrant community garden that serves as an outdoor classroom for children at nearby John Muir Elementary School. Check out the video posted below and you'll be amazed at how this organizing effort transformed a derelict park into neighborhood jewel.
The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group has restored play structures, replanted three parks, rejuvenated two community gardens, and enriched the neighborhood with art projects, including the Peace Wall that surrounds Koshland Park.
The work of Barbara and all of those who came together to restore Koshland and the other nearby green spaces has made such a difference in our neighborhood. It inspires me to continue working to improve our garden and to look for more opportunities to build community and beautify the neighborhood.
Gabriel and I have been tossing around a few project ideas for extending our gardening efforts beyond the Page Street Garden's front gate. Stay tuned for more details and to find out how you can get involved.